Consumers want Utah liquor stores to offer better hours
Expanded hours and more craft beer those are two improvements consumers want to see at state-owned liquor stores in Utah, according to preliminary results of a survey underway by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC).
About half the 45 liquor stores in Utah are open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Larger stores that can handle more inventory stay open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. All stores are closed on Sundays and holidays.
"Opening later is something the department should think about as we grow, especially if we can't build [new stores]," DABC Executive Director Sal Petilos told members of the state liquor commission Tuesday. "We should think about opening from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the future."
That, however, would require additional funds from the Utah Legislature to cover increased pay for employees, the majority of whom are part-time workers and receive no benefits.
The consumer responses came through mail-in survey cards that the DABC placed at all state liquor stores in recent months.
On the card, customers are asked to rate the stores on a scale of excellent to poor on everything from employee knowledge and responsiveness to store cleanliness and product availability.
So far, 277 cards have been returned, but the department hopes more consumers will fill out and return the surveys in the coming months, Petilos said. "We'd like to hear from them."
According to the preliminary results, most consumers drive approximately 4.7 miles to get to the nearest store and spend an average of about 10 minutes shopping.
He said the majority of respondents 80 percent or higher gave employees an "excellent" rating for friendly and courteous service, responsiveness and product knowledge. Most (83.7 percent) also gave stores an "excellent" rating for cleanliness.
Satisfaction fell when it came to store hours, Petilos said. Only 55.5 percent said the store hours were "excellent."
"We also had less positive results when it came to layout and store design," he said. Seventy percent of consumers gave the stores an "excellent" rating. State liquor stores differ in age and size, Petilos said, and the new, larger stores received better responses than smaller, older buildings.
A section of the survey allows consumers to make personal comments about the system. Several requested more craft beers. That's not surprising, Petilos said, "considering the growth in the craft beer industry" in Utah and across the country.
"We should try to rotate in more craft beers," he told commissioners. Craft brewers, however, may have difficultly providing the state with enough product.
Other requests include adding a store near 1400 South and Main in Salt Lake City, where the state closed an outlet several years ago due to budget cuts, as well as in West Jordan, where the population has boomed.
Some cards contained profanities; others provided a bit of levity, Petilos said. "Someone wanted a store in their backyard."